i am so happy with how this recipe eventually turned out–because the first attempts did not. the first beet pesto i made was more like a…paste. it may have tasted good, as my kind dinner guests assured me, and one of them made a good point: “this would be a good ravioli filling.” true. but not what i was going for. i’ve learned that pureeing roasted beets with ricotta creates the kind of sponge that no amount of oil or water will loosen up. but enough with the failed attempts–and on to what ended up being a dinner party-worthy dish. i will have to have those guests over again to try this, asap.
the gnocchi is not boiled, but added straight to a pan of sage and browned butter to fry until golden. but what really elevates this dish and makes me super-happy about it is the orange butter sauce. the inspiration for this whole dish was two dinners i had last summer at delux and grace on the west side (sniff…i miss you west side). at delux i enjoyed gnocchi with a sweet red puree, which was the inspiration for the beet pesto, and it was served with a sweet sauce as well, with flavours that i couldn’t place and for some reason didn’t inquire about. but shortly after that, i enjoyed a truly perfect ricotta ravioli (the reason i used ricotta in my first stab at this), at grace, and it was served in a browned butter and orange sauce. i tried to combine all of the flavours of those great dinners in my version, and i think it totally worked. the sweetness of the beets and orange play off each other without being over-the-top sweet. the orange seems to highten all of the other flavours like salt would, so it’s defintely worth taking another two minutes to make the orange butter sauce. i hope you try this and enjoy it as much as i did. if my dinner guests from the beet-paste trials are reading this–round two at my place any time!
2 cloves garlic, smashed but left whole or in large pieces
1 lb. fresh gnocchi (or frozen gnocchi completely thawed)